Plan to create botanic garden ‘of global standing’

Botanic garden site, Ballavale Road, Santon

Botanic garden site, Ballavale Road, Santon

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Planners have approved applications for a ‘botanical garden of global standing and worthy recognition’ in Santon.

Mark Shuttleworth, the first South African in space and multi-millionaire founder of the Ubuntu computer operating system, is the brainchild behind the project.

And the garden can be created within about 71 acres of land that he owns in Ballavale Road, subject to a number of planning conditions.

In the design statement submitted with the applications (13/00830/B), (13/00831/B), (13/00832/B) and (13/00834/B) it stated: ‘The intention is to create an estate, and associated buildings, that will contribute significantly to the island’s heritage, creating a botanical garden of global standing and worthy recognition.’

When open to the public, the plan is for the gardens to be presented in a manner to inform and educate visitors in a relaxed environment’

Wildlife and biodiversity are considered to be intrinsic elements of the masterplan.

As much of the existing mature vegetation as possible will be retained, and will be enhanced by additional planting schemes specifically designed to conserve and encourage the growth of local planting species, attract wildlife and encourage biodiversity.

There will be wetlands, a glen, a meadow orchard, Japanese garden, gardeners’ compound, sensory garden, water cascade and a walled garden.

A large production house will enable a substantial and constant seasonal supply of plants and flowers’ to be grown.

A sensory garden will be developed in close collaboration with a number of charities including the Manx Blind Welfare Society and Rebecca House children’s hospice.

And an amphitheatre will provide an outdoor stage for theatrical performances and educational presentations.

Phasing of the works, and details about construction vehicle parking and material storage need to be approved before work can start.

If any archaeologically interesting features are found within the site during the works, Manx National Heritage can be brought in to inspect and record them.

Measures must also be put in place for the protection of the old mill and sluice on the site.

In addition, before any public use or access to the site, planners must approve a statement of public usage outlining times and frequency of usage, and arrangements for parking.

The plans were submitted on Mr Shuttleworth’s behalf by Richmond Square Design Ltd.

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